1 Nov 2000
By CHRIS HARRIS
The third-generation Mercedes C-class boasted an all-new platform after DaimlerChrysler was stung by criticism of its seven-year old predecessor being a dull drive compared to its BMW 3 Series rival.
The Germans spent around $4 billion developing this model, with the result being the largest and most sporting C-class ever offered.
Mercedes-Benz is pursuing an ever-younger market, with its rakish and highly aerodynamic body, a bigger interior and impressive standard equipment lists, all backed up by outstanding dynamics that include a comfortable ride as well as stable, secure road holding.
But there has been widespread criticism about this car’s cabin quality, which is now several notches below Audi’s excellent A4’s cabin effort.
A mild exterior makeover featuring a significant cabin redesign aided to address this from late ’04, along with more features, improved steering and suspension and revisions to the wide engine range.
Basically there is a three-tiered variant availability throughout the Mercedes range: base Classic, sporty Avant-garde and luxury Elegance.
Besides the four-door sedan, there was also the S203 wagon from July ‘01 and the C203 hatchback (erroneously called “Sport Coupe”) five months later.
The DOHC 16V four-cylinder engine ranges consist of: 95kW/185Nm 1998cc 2.0-litre (C180) until September ‘02 and three varying supercharged (called Kompressor) 1796cc 1.8-litre outputs: a 105kW/220Nm C180K from October ’02 a 120kW/240Nm C200K and a 141kW/260Nm C230K.
An advanced 2.1-litre CDI turbodiesel four-cylinder engine (C220 CDI) arrived from early March ’01, while on the SOHC 18V V6 front there are: a 125kW/240Nm 2.6, a 160kW/310Nm 3.2 and its C32 supercharged 260kW/450Nm 3.2 AMG spin-off and then there is the first C-class V8, the formidable 270kW/510Nm 5.4-litre AMG in the C55 released in September ’04. Transmission choices are a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox.